About keywords in Search Network campaigns

Keywords are words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms people are searching for.

Selecting high quality, relevant keywords for your advertising campaign can help you reach the customers you want, when you want.

This article explains how keywords work, where your ads will show.

How they work

To get your ads to appear when people search for your product or service, the keywords you choose need to match the words or phrases that people search for.


If you sell frisbees, you can add "buy frisbee" as a keyword in your Google Ads campaign. When people type "buy frisbee" on Google search, your ad might appear on the search results page. In addition, if your Search campaign is also targeting the display network, then your ad could also appear on websites about ultimate frisbee.

When a customer searches for a term that matches your keyword, your ad enters an auction to determine if it will show.

The cost for each keyword will be different depending on the quality of your keyword, your competition in the auction, and other factors. Make sure your keywords and landing page are all closely related to the terms that a customer might be searching for. To help you understand the quality for your keywords, each keyword has a Quality Score.

This score is based on expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Higher quality ads and relevance to user searches typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions. Learn more About Quality Score.

How your keywords match to searches

You can use keyword match types to choose the range of what searches your keywords can match. With exact match your keyword will only show on searches that have the same meaning as the keyword. With phrase match, your keyword can show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.

If you don’t specify a match type, your keyword will default to broad match and can match to searches related to your keywords. Learn more About keyword matching options.

Note: On Google Maps, the term "near me" may be added to a user’s search term when they're looking at locations in their close proximity. This helps your ad connect to users on Maps by showing businesses and locations in their vicinity. For example, when a user searches "restaurant" in Google Maps close to their current location, your keyword "restaurant near me" may serve. Your ads can be prevented from serving in this scenario by adding “near me” to negative keywords.

This functionality is available only for ads in the following languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. Google will use the respective translation of "near me" based on the language of your ads and the user's search. For example, Spanish ads will show as "cerca de mi".

How to exclude searches

To prevent your ad from showing for particular searches, you can also add negative keywords.

Negative keywords can help you make sure your ad only shows on the searches you want. Learn more About negative keywords.


If you sell dog clothes you can target searches for “pet clothes” and add "cat" as a negative keyword to make sure your ad doesn't appear to people looking for cat clothes.

Where your ads appear

You can choose to target your ads to a number of different ad networks. Keywords work differently on each network:

  • Google search and search partner sites: When you build your ad groups, you select keywords relevant to the terms people use when they search, so your ads reach customers precisely when they're looking for what you offer.
    • For users who are part of Search Labs and have opted into the Search Generative Experience (SGE), ads may also appear in this experiment. Searches in conversational mode will use Google Ads’ understanding of the contextual intent for ad matching and reporting. Learn more about Supercharging Search with generative AI.
  • Google Display Network: If you've chosen to show ads on Display Network sites, Google Ads uses your keywords to place your ads next to content that matches your ads. Google's technology scans the content and web address of a webpage and automatically displays ads with keywords that closely match the subject or web address of the page. For example, on a webpage that includes brownie recipes, Google Ads might show ads about chocolate brownies or delicious dessert recipes. Learn more about how to Choose keywords for Display Network campaigns.


  • Choose your keywords carefully. Include terms or phrases that your customers would use to describe your products or services. Make sure your keywords directly relate to the theme of your ad and the page you're directing your customers to. Keywords with 2-3 words tend to work most effectively.
  • Group similar keywords into ad groups.Try grouping your keywords into themes. These themes can be based on your products, services, or other categories. For example, if you sell rings, you can have a group of keywords for "engagement rings" and another group of keywords for "wedding rings". Then you can create separate ad groups for these groups of keywords and have specific ads for "engagement rings" and specific ads for "wedding rings".

Was this helpful?

How can we improve it?
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu